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Read an Excerpt:

Chronicles of a Brainiac:

Mark Dibble and the Magic Underpants


Mark Dibble Life Observation #86: Dying is bad for one’s health.





     I was dead meat. I knew it as soon as I heard the school door slam behind me. They were waiting.


     “There he goes – get him!” yelled Danny to his two moronic henchmen.


     Oh, crap. Not again.



     There was only one thing to do: run!


     “By the door. Don’t let him get away. Dibble, you’re a dead man!


     That fart face, Danny “The Wolf” Lupo, has hated me ever since the third grade, ever since that stupid day when I laughed at him for misspelling “tricycle.” From then on, that black-haired baboon has made my life miserable.


     “Catch that geek! He’s mine!”


     I increased my speed.


     Danny Lupo sounded angrier than usual, and that’s saying a lot because Danny Lupo was always angry.


     “Hurry! I want that curve-breaker! Catch him!”


     Those dumb jerks: Orlando Sanchez and Marty Flick followed Danny everywhere, and did everything he told them, including eating bugs, spitting on people, and beating me up. Nothing short of being struck by lightning could divert their bloodthirsty attention from me. Lupo simply pointed his finger at me, barked out the order, and it was feeding time – again.


     A sea of students parted, most of them reaching for their phones to record my historic 500th beating for posterity. Nobody was going to help. It was business as usual, just another brainiac shrimp getting pulverized. Happens every day.


     When you’re facing a bully, you’re on your own.


     Good thing the punks were way at the other end of the Dewey Middle School parking lot. That gave me a chance. No way could a snail like me ever outrun them unless I had a head start. I was probably the slowest kid in the whole eighth grade; all because I was genetically cursed with chubby legs. My mom calls them “husky” and tells me that they’ll stretch and thin out when I hit my growth spurt.


     Yeah, right. Maybe I can explain that to Danny Lupo and negotiate a postponement of my execution.


     I didn’t look back to see if they were gaining on me. That would’ve slowed me down. I was having enough trouble as it was, hauling my butt out of there.


     The harder I tried to run, the more my book bag bounced up and down against my back. Weighed down by my humongous math and science textbooks, I had already worked up a sweat and was almost out of breath. The springing motion kept knocking my Cubs cap off and jerked my head back like a jack-in-the-box in an earthquake. All I could see was sky and then concrete, sky and then concrete. I must have looked like a real spazz as I desperately tried to get across the teachers’ parking lot.


     I passed a few houses but was still too far from home to run the whole way. I was out of breath and they were gaining on me.


     I thought about ditching the book bag to make me lighter. Bad idea. Those creeps would only take it and throw my books all over the place. The only thing bullies like more than beating up kid is beating up a smart kid and destroying his books. That’s an added bonus like a “buy one get one free” sale at the bully store.


     I kept running. My book bag sprang against my spine like it was trying to escape. I clutched the strap tighter until it cut into my fingers. My heart was so loud I didn’t even hear the roar of the steady stream of cars passing by on Dewey Avenue.


     There was no time left; I had to take a chance.


     Do something, Dibble. Think. Think!



     A car was parked near the dangerous intersection of Dewey and Seventh, close to the traffic light at the five-way intersection that leads to the busy part of town. If I could get to it, I could hide and maybe catch my breath. Then, if I could cross the street, my chances of living would increase dramatically.



     The goons were breathing down my neck.



     Then, they stopped. Marty and Orlando fought over something they found on the sidewalk, while Lupo slapped them in the heads and pointed in my direction. It was like watching The Three Stooges.



     It was time to use my brain – the thing that got me into this trouble in the first place.



     When you’re smart, people hate you. It started with a chuckle five years ago, and it looked like it was going to end with me getting pulverized by a bunch of bullies just because of a stupid math test. Being smart can shorten one’s life considerably.



     I decided to cross the street against the light and take my chances in the traffic. I had a higher chance of survival in the middle of speeding cars than in the middle of flying fists.



     All of a sudden, I felt dizzy – not the nervous kind of dizzy, but the puking kind – the kind of dizzy that comes when you realize that the car that shielded you from the invading punk army is vibrating, and you’re inches from its tailpipe sucking its exhaust deep into your lungs.



     “There he goes!”

     There was no time left. I made my move. be continued

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